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Environmental Ethics

Volume 40, Issue 3, Fall 2018

J. Spencer Atkins
Pages 283-296

Have You Benefitted from Carbon Emissions? You May Be a “Morally Objectionable Free Rider”

Much of the climate ethics discussion centers on considerations of compensatory justice and historical accountability. However, little attention is given to supporting and defending the Beneficiary Pays Principle as a guide for policymaking. This principle states that those who have benefitted from an instance of harm have an obligation to compensate those who have been harmed. Thus, this principle implies that those benefitted by industrialization and carbon emission owe compensation to those who have been harmed by climate change. Beneficiary Pays is commonly juxtaposed with Polluter Pays Principle and the Ability to Pay Principle in the relevant literature. Beneficiary Pays withstands objections that raise suspicion for the latter two.

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